Yaron Zilberman’s A Late Quartet is a competent drama which boasts excellent performances.
Peter, the cellist in a successful classical string quartet, decides to retire after twenty-five years. The revelation of Peter’s illness and wishes prove to be a catalyst for the remaining three members. Resentment and desires spring to the surface, threatening to destroy the quartet…
In A Late Quartet, Peter’s announcement really does open the threshold for a myriad of other issues. Director Yaron Zilberman gives adequate time to both developing characters and moving the plot along. A Late Quartet is engaging throughout. The script is well crafted, with some great dialogue.
The narrative progresses at a good pace. Given the themes that A Late Quartet encompasses, the film does not quite pack the emotional punch one may expect. However, this may be symbolic of the action at hand. Like the quartet’s playing, emotion is measured and disciplined. It actually makes for a better film that it does not become awash with sentimentality. There is drama and heightened emotions, but A Late Quartet never descends into all-out tears.
The film has a polished look that enhances its setting of the Manhattan classical music scene. There appears to be a theme with the camera work. The restricted shots seem to mirror what is said about Parkinson’s Disease in a particular scene. The wide shots at the film’s climax indicate a shift. Zilberman appears to have been very deliberate in these choices, and it is a style that pays off.
Christopher Walken delivers a great performance as Peter. Catherine Keener is also strong as Juliette, while Philip Seymour Hoffman is superb as ever as Robert. Imogen Poots feels miscast as Alexandra, giving a slightly grating performance.
A Late Quartet is a solid drama which shows enviable restraint in spite of its themes.
A Late Quartet is out in cinemas and available on demand with Sky Store and Curzon Home Cinema from Friday 5th April 2013.